Packaging is an effective and powerful part of a brand’s marketing strategy, but sometimes packaging becomes a bit more than that. For many liquors, the bottle that holds it can be as much a reason to buy it as the drink contained within – Absolut Vodka is a brand that comes to mind. And sometimes, the bottle itself can become the object of desire…and even a collectors’ item. Whether rare, luxurious, aesthetic, or otherwise interesting, here are some of the most sought after bottles money can buy.
This one-of-a-kind crystal Lalique decanter was commissioned by the famed Speyside distillery to be crafted using the ancient “cire perdue” method (also known as the “lost wax” method) and holds the oldest and rarest Macallan single malt ever bottled. It sold at Sotheby’s for a whopping $460,000 in 2010, making it the most expensive bottle of whiskey ever sold. Largely thanks to that final price, 36 other bottles of the same single malt were later sold for around $16,000 a piece. So, in effect, at about $450,000 you could say this is the most expensive bottle ever sold.
The Bombay Sapphire Revelation collection featured just 5 Baccarat crystal bottles designed by Karim Rashid, with the diamond and jewel decorated caps supplied by Garrard. At $200,000 per bottle, the entire collection was worth a cool $1 million, though they were shipped to 5 separate cities across the globe (New York, London, Dubai, Sydney, and Singapore) to promote the brand with proceeds going to the smile train charity. The purchaser of each bottle would also receive a year’s supply of Bombay Sapphire gin.
Louis XIII Cognac is at the very top of high-end cognacs. It’s a unique and rare blend of liquor aged between 40 to 100+ years in the Grande Champagne region of France. Though normally the brand goes for around $2,000 per bottle, this limited edition “Black Pearl” is listed for 4 times that amount. The bottle may look like steel or silver, but it is in fact a uniquely colored Baccarat Crystal that reflects and refracts light like no other bottle before.
The premium vodka brands are getting into the fancy bottling racket as well, it seems. Ladoga created this classy Venice glass decanter design for their Imperial collection inspired by Faberge eggs and detailed with 24-karat gold trim; open the egg to reveal the bottle and 4 cleverly mounted shot glasses within. The “eggs” comes in a variety of colors, each suitable as a lovely collectors’ piece for any Russian vodka fanatic.
According to Crystal Head Vodka’s website, 13 crystal skulls have been found throughout the world and they date anywhere from 5,000 to 35,000 years old. The truth is, none of the skulls made available for study presented anything that would suggest they were manufactured any earlier than the 19th century. There is still some dispute on those accounts. Regardless, this is one of the more popular non-traditional bottles you might find in your neighborhood liquor store. And for under $50, it’s a bit more accessible than some of the above bottles. In fact, if you aren’t interested in the liquor inside and prefer the package instead, eBay has them going for just about $10 a piece (plus shipping).
If you have some time to learn about the legend behind this bottle, you’ll discover a story line like no other. But it’s the bottle itself that I’m most interested in. The pictures simply don’t do it justice. From the front, it looks like a figure (man) attempting to escape the bottle. Turn it to the side, however, and the figure follows you until he disappears completely (from the side). It’s an impressive and creepy holographic trick that certainly fits the narrative. I’m sure the vodka is pretty good, too…
This Armenian brand takes its bottle designs very seriously. La Collection features a number of hand-blown glass bottles representing a number of animals including a bull, a horse, and an elephant, plus a few guns, a sword (with sheath), a menorah, and a lady shoe. Definitely a brand worth collecting just for the unique glass work alone.
The first time I saw this bottle, I wasn’t sure I was in the right place… Is this a liquor store or…? At a closer look, it became clear it was simply two liquors in a single hand blown crystal bottle. Milagro produced the above bottle to celebrate 2 complimentary styles of tequila:
“The 3 inner chambers are filled with 100% Blue Agave Select Barrel Reserve Anejo, each chamber representing a year of its aging to maturity. The outer chamber is filled with 100% Blue Agave Reposado aged to perfection for 9 months in oak barrels.” – Source
The bottle below, however, is another piece of art that also happens to contain tequila. The hand-blown bottle features a tequila plant within for a breathtaking visual experience.
Keeping up with the tequila theme, this bottle is designed after a handgun and contains an ironically smooth tequila from Hijos De Villa. Along with the Crystal Head Vodka bottle, this is one of the more common non-traditional bottles you might be able to find locally and is also quite easy to find on eBay (sans liquor).
There are a number of other cool gun shaped bottles, but this one from Kalashnikov vodka takes the cake. It’s the realistic gun case and included dog-tags that sells it, really. Not that the bottle itself isn’t great: it even stands up on the butt of the gun nicely without it (though I wouldn’t display it that way long – it’s still too tall), but the realistic case gives it that final detail for the full experience.
Medea Vodka has done something truly remarkable with their bottle design that we find impressive. The LED display can remember up to 6 messages of up to 255 characters each. It’s actually more advanced than Twitter! The batteries last about a year, according to the website. Just check out the video below for more info:
At first glance, this bottle may look like the Bombay Sapphire Revelation design. And while it’s far short of $200k, (retails around $70), each bottle does come with one of 5 precious stones in the cap. It’s the poor man’s version of Revelation, but a vodka by Jewel Lines.
This Russian made vodka, called Samurai, features a bottle design that’s clever in a minimalistic sort of way. It appears as though the bottle was cut in half by a samurai sword, and stands that way. Simple, aesthetic, and clever.
This bottle, inspired by the Mayan culture, appears to be a stone replica statue and contains an unknown brand of Anejo tequila. Even though we don’t know much about the brand, one look at this unique bottle and I knew I needed to include it on my list anyway.
Pshenychnaya is another vodka brand that’s explored non-traditional shaped bottles. This time, instead of glass, the bottles are made from porcelain and painted to match the design more accurately. Along with the car (above), this brand also has an AK-47 design, though it’s not nearly as aesthetic.
What’s your favorite bottle? Share other cool bottle designs with us in the comments!